Home > Uncategorized > Mother protests state’s restrictions on son’s contact with church, and questions safety in his group home

Mother protests state’s restrictions on son’s contact with church, and questions safety in his group home

Note to Readers:

Last week, we reported here about Valerie Loveland’s fight against efforts to limit her co-guardianship of her son and evict her from her apartment.

This week, we are updating the case of Cindy Alemesis, the mother of another client of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). As we have previously reported, DDS is continuing an effort to remove Cindy as her son’s co-guardian even though Cindy acted to save her son’s life in 2018.  

A hearing in Middlesex Probate Court on DDS’s guardianship removal petition against Cindy has been scheduled for May 5.

Cindy says that in addition to trying to remove her as her son’s co-guardian, the state is imposing unfair and punitive restrictions on her son’s contact with the community and with his church. She says the church, which she also attends, has been a “lifeline” for her 30-year-old son Nick.

Cindy also said she is concerned about Nick’s safety in a group home in Dracut in which he suffered an apparent head injury last month.  The group home is operated by Incompass, Inc., a corporate provider funded by the state.

In seeking to remove Cindy as co-guardian of Nick, DDS appears to be trying to give sole guardianship to the other co-guardian who is paid by the Department. Cindy contends that co-guardian, who has other wards, has rarely visited Nick.

Nick and Cindy Alemesis

In 2018, Cindy appears to have saved her son’s life after she discovered he was ill following a church service. She insisted he be taken to a hospital, where doctors discovered that a shunt in his brain had been leaking fluid into his stomach. Nick spent 10 months in the hospital with sepsis, and underwent numerous brain operations and other procedures as a result.

The 2018 incident was not investigated by the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) even though Zaheer Ahmed, Nick’s doctor, charged that staff in the group home failed to bring Nick to a scheduled ultrasound appointment. According to the doctor, that ultrasound would have revealed the fluid leaking from the shunt.

Dr. Ahmed recently wrote a letter to the probate court, supporting Cindy and opposing DDS’s attempt to remove her as Nick’s co-guardian.

Recently injured in group home

Cindy contends that care and safety problems have persisted in Nick’s group home, and said she thinks Nick may have been physically abused in the residence on or about March 18.

Cindy has been out of the country since March 14 on a church-sponsored missionary trip to Nigeria. While there, she received a call from her mother that Nick was bleeding from his ears in his group home, and had been  taken by ambulance to a hospital. In addition, she said, his face was bruised.

Cindy said no one from the group home has responded to her questions about the incident, but that staff told her mother Nick’s injury was self-inflicted by banging his head against a wall.

Cindy said, however, that she has never witnessed Nick injure himself. She also said Nick is afraid of the group home, and has told her people are hurting him there.

No incident report apparently filed with DPPC

On Monday (April 4), Cindy called the DPPC to ask if a report was ever filed about Nick’s injury and hospitalization in March. She said the DPPC informed her on Wednesday that no report had been filed.

Under state law, the group home staff must report any case of suspected abuse or neglect to the DPPC.

Cindy said she called the DPPC hotline number this morning (April 7) to file a report herself with the agency about the March incident, but was told the wait time was 50 minutes due to a high volume of calls. She said she left a voicemail message asking for a callback, and planned to try to call again.

She was finally able to call in the report later on April 7.

According to a DPPC guidance document, even self-injurious incidents and unexpected hospital visits should be reported because they may indicate negligence of a caregiver or provider.

DDS Co-guardian writes letter restricting Nick’s visits to church; cites safety concerns

Rather than investigating or addressing conditions or care in Nick’s group home, Cindy said, DDS officials have moved instead to restrict her son’s contact with his church and community.

Following Nick’s injury in March, the DDS co-guardian wrote a letter to Cindy and the group home staff, which imposed a restriction on Nick’s attendance at his church in Londonderry in New Hampshire. The March 24 letter stated that,“Nick can go to church only if Cindy can take him and she provides supervision.”

The co-guardian’s letter also imposed restrictions on Nick’s contact with the community. The letter stated that, “Nick cannot go to church or access the community with (his) Uncle Danny or any friends from church due to issues of liability. They can visit him at the group home only. Incompass will find a local Baptist church where staff can supervise him.”

Given that Cindy has been out of the country, she said Nick has been unable for the past month to visit his church. She said she doesn’t understand why DDS would react to an injury to Nick that occurred in his group home by restricting his contact with his church and with the community.

For years, Cindy said, Nick has been taken to church services and functions from his group home either by family members or friends. Cindy herself doesn’t drive, and depends on those people for transportation to the church as well.

It is not clear what authority the DDS co-guardian has to restrict Nick’s church attendance. However, Nick’s DDS service coordinator texted Cindy on March 29, stating that the co-guardian’s “guidance” was “fair.”

Cindy said going to church is Nick’s principal social activity, and that his life revolves around church functions. He has been attending the church since he was five years old.

However, the DDS co-guardian’s letter stated that, “Nick presents a risk to the community, and is a risk to reoffend.” There was no explanation in the letter as to what type of risk Nick presents or what offenses Nick may have committed there.

In his March 29 text to Cindy, Nick’s DDS service coordinator stated that, “Nick is having an alarming increase in temper tantrums. He is exhibiting self-injurious behavior. He has a forensic history. There are concerns of him reoffending. There are issues of liability. He isn’t safe to go out into the community unsupervised. Period.”

Two incidents in 2014

Cindy said the references to Nick having a forensic history are apparently to two incidents that occurred in 2014. In one, she said, Nick “kissed a girl’s hand and wanted to walk her home.  He knew her from school.” That same year, she said, “he urinated outside.”

Cindy said that in the wake of those incidents, Nick was found by the probate court to be incompetent, and Cindy agreed to become his co-guardian. He was never charged criminally. Cindy said Nick was first placed at that time in a group home. She said there have been no similar incidents since 2014.

Cindy said Nick has never been violent with others in the community, and has never had a forensic history, which implies criminal activity.

Cindy says no basis for restrictions on church and communty contact

In her March 24 letter, the DDS co-guardian stated that Nick “can go to lunch with mother or walks with father if conditions met.” Among those conditions are that, “There must be no temper tantrums, property damage, or incdents of self injurious behavior for 48 hours prior to event.” The co-guardian’s letter added, “Behaviors documented after interactions with family.”

Cindy maintained, however, that Nick has never had any problems with safety or injury in his church or in the community.

Pastor confirms he never saw Nick cause problems in church

The pastor of Nick’s and Cindy’s church, the Reverend Keith Phemister, confirmed Cindy’s assertion that Nick has never caused problems in his church.

“We’ve never had a problem with Nick,” Phemister said. “He’s never hit or hurt anyone here.” He said that a few months ago, Nick expressed anxiety at having to return to the group home. “He doesn’t like it there for some reason,” he said.

Phemister confirmed that as a result of the DDS co-guardan’s letter, Nick has not been able to attend the church for the past month. “I know he looks forward to coming to church,” he said. It’s his lifeline.”

On March 29, Cindy texted the service coordinator, saying, “ When I die, Nick will have no more church. … Why. Why take it away.”

The service coordinator texted back, saying, “Nick’s family and church friends can visit him anytime at the group home. I will not respond to anymore emails at this time.”

DDS not providing supported resasoning for its actions

In our view, DDS is attempting to remove Cindy as her son’s guardian, apparently without regard for the fact that she is the one person who has clearly acted in his interest in saving his life and advocating for his safety.

Nick does not appear to be safe in his group home and has expressed a fear about being there. He was injured there last month. Yet, the response by DDS officials has been to restrict his contact with his family members, his friends and his church, and the community as a whole.

Nick does not appear to pose any risk of harm to himself or others in his church or the community.

The DDS response does not appear to make sense. That’s may explain why the service coordinator doesn’t want to respond to further email inquries from Cindy.

  1. Joan DArcy Sheridan
    April 7, 2022 at 11:10 am

    How can I share this or put it on face book?

    Like

  2. Patricia Kirby -Jones
    April 7, 2022 at 12:56 pm

    I have known Cindy and Nick for about 22 or 23 years and I have never seen Nick have a tantrum or be violent towards anyone in factNick is a very loving and helpful person and I think Cindy deserves to have full custody of him at least she always took care of him when she did havefull guardian ship.

    Like

  3. Valerie Loveland
    April 7, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    Hello Cindy

    This is heartbreaking and I hope the department with new leadership that I have had prior experience with is taking notice of this situation. Both Jen Jensen and Jenna Zoino are top in their fields and are dedicated to keeping families together.

    You are in my prayers. Never give up and never lose hope.

    My situation is similar. The state of Massachusetts is failing us as parents. It’s time for a change.

    #timeforachange #disability #advocating #parentingspecialneedskids #stateofmassachusetts
    #dds
    #momsmatter
    #parentsmatter
    #stoptheinsanity

    Like

  4. Lee
    April 7, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    I can’t believe after his first medical incident happened which lead him to 10 months in the hospital, that he’s still there. And he’s getting hurt. Where was the staff ? And yet the mom is in trouble. This is so unfair. And Nick suffers. So Sad

    Like

  5. Daniel McCarthy
    April 7, 2022 at 3:01 pm

    I known Cindy and Nick for 12 years Cindy was there for Nick when he was in the hospital at his worst she always reached out for help and never got it from from Nick’s group home if it wasn’t for Cindy going that day to next group home we wouldn’t know what would happen Cindy is a wonderful caring loving mother so it’s please help Cindy with the support during this time

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Anonymous
    April 7, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    I hope and pray this nightmare ends soon for Cindy and Nick!!
    Shame on the people that have failed Nick!! The lies or exaggeration about Nicks behavior is very disturbing.
    Keep on doing the best for your son, Cindy!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tina Cobb
    April 8, 2022 at 3:12 am

    I have been a church member and a friend of Cindy and Nick for over 12 years. I was at hospital while Nick was so sick from a broken shut. Cindy found him and never left his side for 10 months. I saw such a loving mother and both wore so strong. I take them to church for over 4 years now. I am the one who picks Nick up with or without his mom. It’s so sad that Nick has to miss church. Church has been his life for over 20 years. I don’t understand it. Both my husband and I are retired from the Army. There’s never a problem with Nick and we watch him well. I can’t believe in this day and age that A State would do so much harm and get away with it. Stay Strong Cindy. We Are All With You !

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Anonymous
    April 8, 2022 at 1:43 pm

    Doesn’t Nick have a constitutional right to go to Church? If DDS is taking that right away then that is a violation of the first amendment.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. April 8, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    It’s very sad, and even hard to believe that this DDS provider continues to get away with such poor treatment of Nick and his mother. Another injury not reported to DPPC. Another violation of his right to attend the church where he has friends and has built a community. I hope that the judge sees that this DDS attorney does not act in Nick’s best interests, or even seem to know or care much about him. Nick needs a new home – not with this provider, and DDS violates its own regulations in not protecting him. It is so sad to see the standards continuing to slip for DDS providers as well as its appointed attorney guardians. This is not the way it was ever supposed to be for our residents and their families. DDS has the authority to fix this, but they are sitting back and letting it happen. It is absolutely heartbreaking. No other words for it. I pray this judge does the right thing. How did we ever get to this point?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tasha Greenly
    April 10, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    This case is so sad. How can this happen ? Isn’t anyone concerned for Nick ? His mom seems to be the only one doing anything. I pray the judge sees what’s going on. Praying for the family

    Like

  11. Joanie
    April 12, 2022 at 3:27 am

    I have known Nick for over 15 years from church. He loves being there he’s a light at our church and his mom works in the bus ministry I miss him. It’s so unfair that he can’t go how can the state get away with this. I’m praying for him and his family

    Like

  12. scanlonsarah44
    April 12, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    I wonder about the motives of DDS. How can they be more concerned about possible danger Nick may face at church than actual danger st the group home? I am behind you 100%.

    Like

  13. scanlonsarah44
    April 12, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    I wonder about the motives of DDS. How can they be more concerned about possible dangers Nick may face at church than about dangers at his group home? I am behind you 100%.

    Like

  14. Emmanuel
    April 12, 2022 at 3:11 pm

    Praying for the family. I pray Nick gets Justice stay strong Nick 🙏🙏

    Like

  15. Susan
    April 18, 2022 at 8:55 am

    How can this happen? I have a special needs child who will be 22 soon. I’m so scared of DDS. I’ve heard so many stories I want to move out of the state of Massachusetts. How can this happen?? Praying for the Family

    Like

  16. Katie Bailey
    April 18, 2022 at 8:57 am

    I’ve known Cindy since we wore 10. I see the type of mother she is. She always put Nick first I’ve seen her cry over not seeing Nick it’s awful. From staying with her son for 10 months in hospital then Covid hit and she didn’t see him for almost a year !! Now they take church his only peace he loves church so much. Why and how does this happen

    Like

  17. Keriann McGrade
    April 18, 2022 at 11:05 am

    I’m Nicholas Aunt and we all love him and watch out for him. Nicks been in church since he was 5 he’s going on 30. How can this happen I’m so mad. I can’t believe the stuff my sister has been threw. And she’s the only one that stayed with him for the 10 months he was in hospital my sister had a kidney that wasn’t working cause she stopped eating when Nick had his trek. She got sick. And we are still waiting for JUSTICE FOR NICK. PRAYING CINDY AND NICK STAY STRONG

    Like

  18. Bright
    April 19, 2022 at 6:36 pm

    Have know Cindy over 5 years she was the only one that stay with nick in the hospital for 10 month I pray God should help you and nick you are really amazing woman for bring back your son to life you really deserve the best justice for nick.

    Like

  19. Sami Joy Pole
    April 20, 2022 at 4:20 am

    Praying For Cindy & Nick. Praying for a judge to see the truth

    Like

  20. Steve Collins
    April 21, 2022 at 7:01 am

    This is awful !! How can the state get away with this and why is he still in same home ? It’s just so sad. I’m praying for the family.

    Like

  21. Anonymous
    April 22, 2022 at 6:27 am

    My name is Elena Sachs.I am a retired RN and a friend of Cindy’s.Please move him out of this abusive home and grant full guardianship to Cindy.Also please let him go to his OWN church where he has a bond with supportive people.This is a travesty.It is awful that the group home did not call DPCC also.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. John
    April 24, 2022 at 10:20 am

    I go to church with the family. I’ve known nick first he came without anyone he has rode the church bus for 30 years ! This should matter How can a state take away his church ! And get away with leaving him for dead ! Where is this family’s attorney? It’s an outrage !

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Anonymous
    April 25, 2022 at 1:05 pm

    STAY STRONG CINDY & NICK. PRAYING

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Elenor
    May 1, 2022 at 5:37 am

    When is the court date ? How can I help or write a letter ? This is the saddest case I ever saw

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Anonymous
    May 1, 2022 at 5:37 am

    PRAYING FOR JUSTICE FOR THE FAMILY

    Liked by 1 person

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